Hurricane Ian weakens to tropical storm; millions without electricity in Florida | World News

Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued to move northeastward across central Florida, with a massive and deadly surge of water and catastrophic winds that are poised to make it one of the costliest storms in US history.

The former Category 4 hurricane made landfall west of Fort Myers near Cayo Costa shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday local time. Nearly all of Florida, home to 21 million people, braced for widespread blackouts and floods. More than 2 million people have been ordered or urged to flee. The storm is expected to cause more than $67 billion in damages and losses and global shipping is already diverting from its path.

Read more: Hurricane Ian: Shark sweeps into streets amid rain, tornadoes in Florida. Video

“This is going to be a tragic event,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday as the storm neared shore. “It’s something that is going to be there for days, weeks, months and unfortunately in some circumstances even years.”

A storm of this magnitude is a severe test for Florida’s infrastructure due to its low-lying and densely populated coastal areas that are prone to flooding. It comes as climate change has fueled extreme weather worldwide this year, including deadly flooding in Kentucky and Pakistan, a European heat wave that killed more than 2,000 people in Portugal and Spain, and relentless drought in the US west.

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